Week 9: Cam Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Analysis already provided on page 1.

Week 10: Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers

Analysis already provided on page 1.

Week 11: Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams

Rams DE Leonard Floyd - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Rams DE Leonard Floyd – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

I really have no idea how the Rams plan to generate edge pressure this season, but my best guess is Samson Ebukam on the right side and Leonard Floyd on the left, with Terrell Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo backing them up.

None of those players are threatening one-on-one pass rushers, and Floyd, who had just three sacks in his final year in Chicago, may be the most disappointing of the bunch. The former ninth overall pick never stopped relying heavily on inside moves to win off the edge, becoming predictable and easy for opposing tackles to shut down. Wirfs should roll this week.

Week 12: Frank Clark & Alex Okafor, Kansas City Chiefs

Obviously Clark is the more formidable of the two pass rushers, but Okafor, who had five sacks in 2019, aligned to Wirfs’ side a little more often last season. Neither player was at their best last year, but Clark, who had eight sacks in 2019 and 13 the year before, seems likely to get back to the quality pass rusher he’s been throughout most of his career before arriving in Kansas City.

Still, I’m not sure Wirfs is going to see Clark in heavy doses in Week 12. The Chiefs heavy-handed edge rusher is a tough matchup who brings a great first step and a physical rush plan, which should test Wirfs considerably if they do end up slated against each other.

Week 14: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

Hunter has been one of the best defensive ends in the NFL for a long time now, but last season he took his game to another level with another 14.5 season after producing that amount in 2018. Hunter’s got a ton in his repertoire, and he’s finally learning to put it all together. Double swipes, cross chops, long arms, etc. He’s a monster. And when all of that fails, Hunter is a better athlete than 99 percent of the league and has a motor that never quits. Wirfs is going to need help on this one.

Week 15 and Week 17: Dante Fowler, Atlanta Falcons

Falcons DE Dante Fowler – Photo by: Getty Images
alcons DE Dante Fowler Jr. – Photo by: Getty Images

It took a few years, but Fowler finally became a solid player with good production over the past couple seasons, including a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019. He’ll never be a dominant one-on-one rusher due to a lack of consistency in approach and execution, but Fowler plays hard and has a nice counter game when his initial rush plan is stopped.

If Wirfs gets the sixth-year pro in his sights, he better finish the job. Don’t leave Fowler alive to pick up hustle sacks.

Week 16: Julian Okwara & Romeo Okwara, Detroit Lions

The Okwara brothers are likely to split time on the left side of the Lions defense across from standout edge rusher Trey Flowers. Romeo is a good run stuffer with a limited pass rush skill set, evidenced by 1.5 sacks last year after a career-high 7.5 in 2018, while Julian was one of the more raw top 100 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame where he posted 15.5 career sacks, including five last year. Wirfs should be able to dominate this match-up, a rare opportunity in a season full of challenges.

Conclusion

It’s a brutal opening season stretch for Wirfs, who faces six former first-round pick opponents over the first five weeks of his rookie campaign, then five more over the rest of the season. Not only is Wirfs slated to face high-pedigree competition, but even most of his non-first round match-ups are brutal as well. Hunter, Clark and the Smith brothers are all high-quality pass rushers, while Crosby and Golden will present competitive challenges in their own right. The 18 pass rushers Wirfs is set to face in 2020 posted a combined 152.5 sacks in 2019.

Iowa RT Tristan Wirfs
Iowa RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Getty Images

With an abbreviated offseason and very few opportunities for Wirfs to get live reps without a preseason before the season begins, it’s imperative that the Bucs don’t leave him on an island against top competition early in the year. The last thing Wirfs needs is to start floundering and develop bad habits as a result. Yes, there will be opportunities for him to grow in one-on-one situations, but it is a steep jump from college pass protection to the NFL.

Head coach Bruce Arians would be wise to adapt some of his offense to help protect Wirfs early on, until the rookie gets his feet under him and begins to adjust to the pace of a game that he won’t experience until Week 1 rolls around, and Cameron Jordan is staring at him from the other side of the line of scrimmage. No rookie is in an easy spot this season, but there is little question that Wirfs’ faces one of the toughest situations of any first-year player in the NFL. How the Bucs coaching staff helps him handle those opportunities will be crucial to the team’s offensive success and the Iowa product’s development.

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Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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BigSombrero

I made exactly this point a week ago. IMO, there is NO CHANCE they start a guy who is a solid run blocker, but a liability in pass pro against these defensive ends the first 6 weeks. They better have Gronk and a RB helping him if they start him. Also, the weakest rushers on this list are in Carolina with Burns and Gross-Matos. Penn State’s DL and Gross-Matos OWNED Tristan Wirfs last season. He simply could not handle stunts, so they did it over and over and over and over… Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

BigSombrero

I’ve got my popcorn ready. For all those who pounded the table for OG Wirfs and ridiculed the idea of taking RB Jonathan Taylor, get ready for a lesson in the IMMEDIATE value of a great running back vs the 4th blocker off the board.

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TBAtlas

There was absolutely zero chance we were taking Taylor at 13/14. Zero.

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BigSombrero

Achilles heal. No depth or threat at RB is gonna be a problem. Football is about running the ball and stopping the run. Getting cute with passing all the time isn’t the way to win in the end. You’ll see.

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Dave

Football is about running the ball and stopping the run? Lol it’s not 1970 anymore. It’s 2020. And in 2020, it’s not about drafting one dimensional backs at 14. It’s about building a dominant line, where you can throw anyone back there(Saints, Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Cowboys, and 49ers). All those teams can throw any RB in there and be a top 10 rushing

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Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero

The 49ers, the Ravens, the Titans may disagree with you. Also the Seahawks, the Eagles, the Saints, the Vikings, and the Bills. Even Green Bay ran their way into the playoffs…with Aaron Rodgers!

Its about running the ball and stopping the run. Pure and simple.

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DerLutz

Titans were good when Tannehill took the QB spot and played an awesome Season, because of the passing game. 49ers have an awesome scheme and line, the rb doesn’t matter here. Seahawks run the ball, but the success here come with Wilson thorwing on 3rd and Long. Eagles get in the Playoffs because the Cowboys sucked. Saints: You remember Thomas and Brees and the Oline? Vikings run the Football well, but also had a good Play Action. Packers had an better record than they played. Ravens were awesome yes, but remember the Playoffs? Remember when all the Teams failed? When… Read more »

BigSombrero

Your argument against a good running back is the Chiefs passed when they fell behind by double digits. They have Mahomes. There is only one Mahomes. Tom Brady couldn’t get NE in field goal range in the ENTIRE 2nd half vs Tennessee in FOXBOROUGH.

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Dave

Dude that’s so misguided it’s not even funny. You know what’s more important than a good rush offense? All the things I told you in a previous article that matter. TD/INT ratio, QB Rating, and INT %. So 7 of the top 10 rush offenses made the playoffs last year. Not bad. But of the 11 best QB Rating teams last year, 9 made the playoffs. Of the top 10 teams in TD/INT ratio, 9 of the 10 made the playoffs. And of the 11 best teams in lowest INT’s, 9 made the playoffs. Running the ball may help you… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero

Top five offensive rookie of the year candidates include Burrow, CEH, Tua, Taylor, Swift

So, for the record, thats 3 RB and 2 QB and ZERO LINEMEN.

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DerekPHFD

And I’m sure top 5 mvp candidates are Mahommes, Jackson, McCaffrey, Wilson, and Rodgers. So does that mean an offensive line is not important? Rookie of the year is based on counting stats. Just like mvp. Saquon Barney won rookie of year and his team picked 6th the following year. Nelson was the best rookie and his team made the playoffs. If you want to play fantasy football, you pay running backs. If you want Super Bowls, you build trenches. Look at the teams in the Super Bowl this past year. Were you beating the table for mostert and Damien… Read more »

BigSombrero

Both teams in the superbowl invested more high round picks on the defensive line that OL. They both also have an impressive seasoned secondary. And I never said the offensive line was unimportant. I said its easier to run more effectively with a great running back behind a solid line than drafting 3 first round OL and trying to make hay with an average platoon of RBs.

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DerekPHFD

Of the top 10 leaders in team rushing, only 2 of the teams didn’t invest at least 1 first rounder on the o line. If those same top 10 rushing teams, 1 team invested a first round pick into a running back. And that same team, Dallas, invested 3 first round picks into there o line. I’m not sure where you are getting at how it’s easier to to have a running game they way you mention when stats clearly dictate other wise.

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Dave

Has an offensive lineman in the history of the league ever gotten a single MVP, OPOY, or OROY vote? Ever? That’s your argument? Well you win the award for the dumbest comment of the day. A comment like that makes me believe you don’t have a single clue on how football works

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Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Dude

What did I say?

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BigSombrero

Not about drafting “One dimensional backs at 14”?

So to be clear, you think it’s better to grab a ONE-DIMENSIONAL RUN BLOCKER. Go back and watch the Iowa games from last year. He is a matador.

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Dave

YES! 100 times out of 100. I cant even believe that’s a debate. In 2020, one dimensional backs are useless. Unless they’re playing for one of those teams like the Colts, that built their team in the trenches first, then got their 2 down backs second

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Dave

It’s absolutely mind numbing to me, that anyone thinks we should have taken a one dimensional RB who can’t catch, can’t block, and is fumble prone, at 14(who ended up going in the middle of the 2nd round btw lol) like Wirfs or not, he wasn’t going past 20. Under any circumstances. Drafting an extremely one dimensional back at 14 is laughable. Unless you’re a complete do it all back, you have no business going in the top 2 rounds. Only reason why he was taken in the 1st 2 rounds, was the Colts have arguably the best run blocking… Read more »

DonkeyHunter


You are 100% correct.

This isn’t 1965 football. This is a pass driven league and RB’s have seen a steady decline in positional value.

And, if your GM is dumb enough to draft a RB in the 1st round, he had better be in the McCaffrey/Kamara mold. Not a one-dimensional, can’t block back who likes to put the ball on the ground.

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BigSombrero

CIncinatti and Detroits GMs are smart enough to draft OL in the first round. They’ve selected more OL in the first round than any other team in the last 8 years. That’s why they’re sooooo good!

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DonkeyHunter

Since you like bringing up the Colts…don’t they have TWO first round and a 2nd round pick on that line of theirs? Weren’t they a Top-5 rushing unit last year?

Must’ve been because of their 1st round running backs, right?

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BigSombrero

The Colts wasted picks on OL. With their GREAT line and so-so RBs in Mack/Hines, the Colts were 7-9 last season. That same line got Luck killed and he RETIRED.

NEXT ARGUMENT!

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Last edited 2 months ago by BigSombrero
DerekPHFD

You are right. The colts were 7-9. With a last minute qb and two playoff teams in there division. How well did McCaffrey, Elliot, and Barkley do for their teams. The 3 highest drafted rbs recently. Spoiler alert… they all missed the playoffs

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Dave

I love how you constantly bring up Detroit and Cincinnati. The 2 worst franchises in football. They don’t discriminate. They get every pick in every round wrong. The 49ers, Saints, Colts, and Cowboys like their 1st round OLineman. Worked out just fine for them.

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Captain Sly

You’ll need an awful Big Bag of popcorn waiting for an RB to have positional more value than a Tackle… The days of making stupid draft picks are Over!

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BigSombrero

A left tackle? Sure. A right tackle??? No frickin way.

I really hope there is a season. I’m not a fan of Brady or Rivers, but I love the Colts draft! A lesson in stocking up for today and tomorrow. I wish this was the Bucs draft. It literally checks all the boxes.

Rd 1 traded for Deforest Buckner, Rd 2 WR Mike Pittman Jr, Rd 2 RB Jonathan Taylor, Rd 3 S Julian Blackmon, Rd 4 QB Jacob Eason, Rd 5 OL Danny Pinter

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Last edited 2 months ago by BigSombrero
DerekPHFD

Who would be blocking for Taylor? I’m sure you like Indy’s draft, but you know what they already have? A top five o line! You know why.. because the invested a top 10 pick on a frickin Guard.

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Dave

He’s completely clueless on what it takes to be a great running team in this league in 2020. You build the dominate line, then you throw anyone back there. You don’t draft 1 dimensional backs(that you can get a round later) at 14, and pass on a top 4 tackle

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BigSombrero

You’re clueless. The Colts had Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Frank Gore, Marlin Mack, and now Jonathan Taylor.

Until Marlin Mack, the Colts best and most notable lineman was Jeff Saturday, an undrafted FA by Baltimore. No 1st round OL on Mannings teams, yet Edge and Faulk have HOF jackets.

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Last edited 2 months ago by BigSombrero
Dave

Ummm they were both 15+ years ago. AGAIN, this is 2020. Elite RB’s are not how championship teams are built. Championship teams are built by a dominant line, and an efficient offense that doesn’t turn the ball over. If you have a top 10 run blocking line, a top 10 QB Rating, a top 10 TD/INT ratio, or are in the top 10 in fewest INT’s, there’s an 80+% chance you’re a playoff team. Yet here’s a list of your starting RB’s of all the playoff teams last year: Patriots: S.Michel – below average Bills: F.Gore – average Titans: D.Henry… Read more »

BigSombrero

Agree on drafting Nelson in 2018. He was a rare talent and worthy of being the 1st OL off the board at 6 overall. Who was the 4th OL off the board that year (like Wirfs this year)? If you guessed Detroit’s Frank Ragnow, you’d be correct. He joined two other previous 1st round linemen drafted by Detroit in Laken Tomlinson (2015), Taylor Decker(2016). WHere are the rushing titles? How about the playoffs with any RB in front of that premiere OL? You want to talk Colts.They’ve had Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Jodeph Addai, Frank Gore, Marlin Mack, and now… Read more »

DerekPHFD

What do those running backs have to do with your point? That was over the span of 5 different head coaches. And the colts did have a 1st round pick for LT for most of those running backs. Tarik Glenn, 3 time pro bowler. Funny thing. He was the 4th oline player taken in his draft. Damn those facts. You bring up marshal faulk. Be real, he earned his jacket in St. Louis. Don’t move goalpost.

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BigSombrero

Thought Glenn was a 2nd rounder. He was loathed in Indy, just like Donovan Smith here. People always complaining he gave up pressures and sacks.

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Dave

So you thought at the time, Q.Nelson was the RIGHT pick at 6? You didn’t think that was a reach at all? Weird, you’d be the only one. At the time, everybody thought that he was a reach at 6th overall. Hindsight is 20/20. easy to call it a great pick after the fact

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Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero

I live in Indianapolis. My wife is from South Bend. I watch Irish college ball every year. I was in the chorus of people who liked Nelson and McGlinchey.

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Dave

Michael Pittman was a great pick at 34? Lol. A really solid player, yes. At 34, absolutely not. He was projected as a late 2nd rounder

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Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero

I’d take him. He would be a great story playing in Tampa where his Dad won it all. He could also learn from his clone in Mike Evans. I would swap their WR, S picks with ours in a minute.

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Captain Sly

Tampa’s Offensive Line was just Ranked in the top tier yesterday without considering Wirths talent. Sooo again w h y are we worried???
If I the other teams I’d be worried about what we are about to unleash on them!!!

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Dman

Preseason rankings don’t mean much to me. The line we put on the field the past few season was in the bottom half in performance, Top 10 in compensation. Not a great combo.

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surferdudes

Wirfs will face some tough pass rushers. What else is new? Most NFL teams have at least one very talented pass rusher. Whether it’s week 1, or 17, Wirfs will be tested, O.K. got it.

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bucballer

To be the best u have to beat the best. The NFL is full of talent for all teams. All linemen must be able to better their opponents on any given day. That’s an NFL player’s life. We can’t be concerned with who will be across from Wirf on any given game. It is what it is. I think the more appropriate question is, did we upgrade the talent at that position over the previous year. With Dot being older and nicked up from years as an NFL player, this fan thinks we did. There is nothing better than youth… Read more »

seat26

The big guy will be fine. He may need a little help from our TE’s in the beginning but since we don’t use TE’s in the passing game, we have plenty to spare to help out with blocking on the right side.

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BigSombrero

$20.465 million in TE’s to throw at teams!

Gronk, OJ, Brate, Auclair, Hudson, Leggett, or McElroy! Pick your poison to help block for Tom’s dinks and dunks!

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Dman

Still expecting a trade out of the TE room. No sane GM goes into the season with that kind of money tied up in that position.

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Hockey Duckie

Arians said we’d be running more 12 personnel. This is good because our tackles will need help from chip blockers.

This is a great write-up and also a bit daunting for Wirfs!

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flashgordon

Wirfs needs to study some film of Ot’s that have played successfully against some of these. Like the Green Bay Lt handled Khalil Mach.

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Dman

Baptism by fire, no doubt. Welcome to the NFL.

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